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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: June 22, 1937; September 2, 1937
Name: Ella Perryman Kneedler (Mrs.)
Post Office: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Residence: "The White House" - block 150 - on 41st Street, between Peoria and Lewis, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1876
Place of Birth: "The old Ranch house" on what is 34th Street, between Peoria and Lewis
Father: George Perryman
Place of Birth:
Information on father: married c1868
Mother: Rachel Alexander
Place of birth: just some place northwest of Tulsey Town
Information on mother: died 1933
Field Worker: Effie S. Jackson

Vol. 32, p. 360-68
My father was George PERRYMAN, brother of Legus Perryman, last chief of the Creeks.  My mother was a Creek Indian, Rachel ALEX, usually called “Aunt Rachel.”  I have a sister, Mayme SHIRK, who lives here with me, and a brother, George, who lives on 31st near Lewis.  My father was a rancher, and owned (by lease) all the land south from where Tulsa is today to 51st Street, west to the Arkansas and east to Lewis Avenue.  His brothers Legus, Tom and Josiah, controlled all the land from 51st Street to Broken Arrow before allotment.  They all took their allotments in the same vicinity.

I was born in 1876, in "The old Ranch house."  It was on what is 34th Street now, about half way between Peoria and Lewis.  This was a double log house one and one-half stories high.  As many as fifteen cowboys often stayed there.  My father was always taking some homeless boy or girl to raise.  When I was about three years old we moved to this place.  “The White House.”  It was large for those days and painted white.

My father had the lumber hauled from Coffeyville, Kansas, by ox team.  It took three days to make the trip one way if the weather was good.  We got all of our clothing and necessary groceries from there, too.  We children all went to school at Tullahassee Mission.

You see how the house looks today.  Only these two rooms in front have been added, the other six large rooms were the original house and you see they are in good condition yet.  In 1879, my uncle, Josiah Perryman, who lived with us, was appointed post master and the post office was in this house, in fact, it was in that room on the east.  Not many people came for the mail in those days.  Just a few indians lived in the whole region.

 In 1886 my father built the “uptown” house - the one that was in the center of the block where the court house now stands at 6th and Boulder.  (Writer can remember this rather fanciful two-story house with its cupola, and always “Aunt Rachel”, sitting on the porch, smoking her pipe.  When the land was bought for the court house and a business district established around it, the Perryman house was moved out to the 15th block on South Elwood, and there it stands today, a rather run-down place with the sign – “Room to Rent”)

 The Perryman family, from early times, have all been buried in the family cemetery, known as the Perryman Cemetery.  It is about 500 feet south of the corner of what is today 31st and Utica.  My grandfather, Lewis Perryman, Chief Legus, and all of his brothers are buried there.  So is my mother, Aunt Rachel, who died a few year ago.  This is not a private cemetery, both Indians and whites are buried there.   It is still in use.


Ella Kneedler is a well-preserved woman, rather talkative, speaks good English and has a fair memory - though gives to making general statements.

A description of the "The White House" as it appears today may be of interest.  Originally the house consisted of six large rooms, four on the lower and two on the upper floor.  During recent years there have been two additional rooms added across the front - the interior remodeled but of similar construction.

The skillfully fashioned sandstone foundation stones are just like they were first placed, firm and compact, no settling indicated, but moss-grown with age.

The sills are large square timbers that were hewn by hand and mortised together.  The studding and joint are heavy boards and closely spaced to give strength to the building, making it exceptionally sturdy.  The outside covering is drop-siding nailed on with wrought iron nails.  These nails have been in so long that today many of them are rusted through.

The false rafters are artistically designed with scroll work - cut open work through the wood.  This looks as if it had been done by hand. The door and window casings are also decorated.  The wainscoting, molding, and six inch flooring in the interior are all the same as when first constructed.  The walls were first covered with canvas and then papered, but of recent years they have been plastered - except the northeast room, which is still canvassed.

The house is still painted white. It rests on the top of a low hill five hundred feet from the highway, on 41st Street, and is surrounded by trees, with no other houses in proximity.  It still retains some of the dignity of the former "White House."

Five hundred feet south of the "White House" stands a marker which serves as a monument to "Tulsa's First Post Office."

This marker of red granite about three feet square, with a white wooden paling fence in the background, stands on the north side of the pavement in block 150 on 41st street, about half way between Peoria and Lewis.
It bears the following inscription:

    22 ft. north of this point
    On March 25, 1879, was established
    Tulsa's First ----- Post Office
    Known at that time as "Tulsey Town"
    Creek Nation, Ind. Ter.

This Memorial erected on July 4, 1936, by the Oklahoma Society of Daughters of the American colonials.

There are some conflicting statements which are to be checked as carefully as possible.  This is Ella Kneedler's version of where the first post office was.  The Daughters of the Colonials seem to have accepted that location.  But many published reports and personal statements have not had the "White House" constructed before 1884.  If so, then where was the first post office located?

Mrs. Arthur C. Perryman, whose husband is the son of Rev. Thomas Perryman, who was a brother of George Perryman, told me that she has a picture of the cabin, the home of Lewis Perryman, which was the "first post office."  It was located on what is now 34th street in a ravine.  She says she will give detailed description when I interview her.

Mrs. Arthur Perryman told me of a Bible in the possession of the Perryman family, a translation into the Creek language made by Rev. Thomas Perryman (her husband's father who was a minister) and Miss Alice Robertson's mother.  Other documents to be checked at an interview to be made soon (at her convenience).  Mrs. Arthur Perryman was a missionary sent form Pennsylvania to Tulsa about forty years ago.

pg 366-68 -- Interview, Ella (Perryman) Kneedler, daughter of George and Rachel Perryman, 41st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma -- Effie S. Jackson Interviewer, Sept 2, 1937.

My mother, Rachel Alexander Perryman, was in her nineties - so she claimed at the time of her death in 1933.  She did not remember when she was born or exactly where - just some place northwest of Tulsey Town - a little community of Creek Indians who lived in the timber hereabouts and called their settlement Tulsey Town.  My mother was known for and wide for her hospitality - her cooking and her nursing.  Not only the Indian sofka and grape mush, but white man's dishes were cooked by her.  A natural nurse and a mother to seventeen children ten of whom were adopted.

My mother could not read and write and could only say a few words in English.  The longest sentence she ever said as when she told William LYNCH, a life-long friend, of the death of her little grandson - she said, "George's baby stuck nail in foot - bad sick - died."

My father, George Perryman, son of Lewis, married Rachel Alexander about 1868.  During the Civil War my mother was sent to Fort Gibson for protection.  Her father was a corporal in the Southern Army and was slain in combat.  Our first house was the old ranch house - and then in 1879, the white house was built, where we live today.

My father leased a large quantity of land.  A strip ten miles wide east from the Arkansas river, and south from Tulsa to Broken Arrow.  In turn he sub-leased most of this land to such well known cattlemen as Shanghai Pierce, J. M. DOUGHERTY and Jay FORSYTHE.  He raised hogs and steers.  He often drove his hogs overland to Coffeyville, Kansas.  He had the only orchard in the early days in this vicinity, consisting of apples, peaches, plums and pears.

Josiah, my father's brother, was Tulsa's first postmaster in 1879.  He used a northeast room in his house as the post office.  In 1882 with the coming of the railroad, Josiah moved this post office to his store at the northeast corner of Main and First Streets, which was one of the first three stores founded in Tulsa.  "Has" REED of Coffeyville joined him later.  He prospered and sold out to Bob BYNUM, another pioneer.  This store passed into the hands of HALIBURTON-ABBOTT, now Sears, making it the oldest store in Tulsa.

My father built his up-town home about 1886, so we children could go to school.  It was the only two-story house in town.  Early day school teachers boarded with us.  I remember when my mother sold this place; the south part of the block between Main and Boulder facing Sixth Street.  She received $65,000 and demanded that it be in currency, so a St. Louis bank sent her the currency.  She put it in her pocket as if it were an everyday affair and walked over and put it in the bank.  The house was moved to the thirteen hundred block on South Elwood where it is today.  The Tulsa County Court House stands where our barn used to be.  Water was used from the old Perryman well on the place until Spavinaw water came in.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Joan Case <lcase@manti.com> 02-1999.